COVID-19 variant found in Hillsdale County

The COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 has been identified in a Hillsdale County COVID-positive resident.

The individual has been in isolation since initial diagnosis, according to health officer Rebecca Burns. Variant identification is learned after further testing of the initial specimen called sequencing.

The COVID-19 virus, as expected with a coronavirus, has changed over the past year. The variant originated in the United Kingdom and has been found throughout the United States, with the first case in Michigan recorded in January.

The variant spreads more easily and is believed to be more contagious. However, there is no indication that it affects the clinical outcomes or disease severity compared to the original strain.

Burns said it is imperative for community members to strengthen prevention measures by wearing masks, physically distancing, avoiding crowds, washing hands frequently and getting vaccinated when it becomes available.

Based on available evidence, current tests and vaccines for COVID-19 also work against this new variant, Burns said.

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